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Thread: Wild or Captive, does it matter?

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Wild or Captive, does it matter?

    I'm here to improve my photography and would be the first to admit that, with the help given, it has. What I seek is constructive criticism so please tell me if my composition, aperture, shutter or ISO were poorly selected. Let me know if the processing could be improved. If mono would be better. Etc.

    By all means tell me, if you want to, that an image appeals subjectively although if it does or not is largely irrelevant; I've photographed and presented something that I like and your feedback on the technical aspects is valued and greatly appreciated but I'm not going to change my subject matter to please others.

    To criticise an otherwise technically perfect picture of a bird just because it's on a feeder or in captivity is exposing the same prejudice as criticising one of my steam shots because the locomotive is on a preserved line or even, shock horror, in a museum.

    Generally gricers don't do that so why do the twitchers? Could there be a smug one-upmanship being sought from declaring that an image of a bird shot after a three month trek up the Amazon is better than one of the same species taken in the local aviary? Certainly the one in the wild will imbue the photographer with a greater sense of achievement but I contend that is irrelevant if the criteria we as forum members apply is simply: which is the better photograph?

    Cheers,
    John

  2. #12
    Member* John Liddle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wild or Captive, does it matter?

    Well said John - I agree entirely - but be careful not to fall off that soap-box
    John Liddle

    Backwell, North Somerset - "Where the cider apples grow"

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Wild or Captive, does it matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Liddle View Post
    Well said John - I agree entirely - but be careful not to fall off that soap-box
    No risk of falling but being pushed? Now that's another matter

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Wild or Captive, does it matter?

    I quite enjoyed some of the field craft needed to get some of the shots in Iceland. Stalking the ptarmigan through a lava field, laying on a small beach to photograph divers, phalaropes and grebes. And sitting in a pop up hide for several hours in the direct sun.

    I'm just glad I'm fit enough to do this. If I wasn't and still wanted to enjoy photography then captive birds would be a good option. Carry on I say.
    Canon 5D3, 7D2, 60D, Canon 70-200L f2.8 IS II, Canon 300 f4L IS, Canon 16-35 f4 L, Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Canon 1.4 MkIII extender, Sigma AF 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM, Sigma 150-600 Contemporary, Tamron SP AF 70-300 F/4-5.6 Di VC USD, Canon EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS
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  5. #15
    Member* colin C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wild or Captive, does it matter?

    I have come in rather late on this discussion and given it a lot of thought in the meantime. My conclusion is that I am a photographer and it is the final image that counts for me. As long as I obtain that image using my skills, without distressing or harming the subject and without deliberately deceiving my audience, then I am comfortable with the result.

    I have the equipment and the ability to get the best out of it. I have the field craft and stalking skills to get near enough to my quarry, whilst staying outside of its comfort zone. I also have good panning ability to take moving/ flying shots. Nothing excites me more than stalking my subject and coming away with good images, yet there is a limit to what I can do in the UK and how much disappointment I can take when I come away with nothing, which is more often than not! So, I will intermix my pure wildlife with the occasional captive environment, such as the Hawk Conservancy Trust and that facility was amazing for honing my birds in flight skills before my first trip to Africa. In fact the African shots were easier, because the birds were not restricted to a small flying area. Much easier to get a Vulture or Eagle shot when you notice it approaching from a mile away, so many thanks to the HCT for developing my skills.

    But, in Africa, guides drove me to the right places and I paid them for the privilege. In the UK, I have paid for those with more experience than me to put me in the right place at the right time. I have paid to use Kingfisher hides, I have paid for Raptor shoot days and I have visited venues where captive birds are flown. Much as I would prefer for every image to be the result of months of skill and stalking, as a photographer it is the image that drives me and I don’t have the patience, time and finances to get that image of an Emperor Penguin at the Antarctic, for a ticket price of 10K, when there is a local Zoo on my doorstep.

    All of my images posted have been shot in RAW, tweeked to get the best from them and then exported to Photoshop for the final polish. That normally just means cropping, levels, hue and saturation and some sharpening. Very, very rarely, I might need to add something to complete the image. It could be adding a sky, or it could be taking an area from the left of the shot and blending it to the right of the shot to make the composition work. I like to think I would always mention if I added something from another image, but I wouldn’t necessarily bother about a bit of cloning, or blending to refine an existing image.

    To summarize, I am a photographer and it’s the final image that is important to me. I use all of my skills to get it right in camera and then refine it with post editing. I will not try to deceive the viewer and will invariable mention that it was a captive subject, or state the venue, or mention that the jesses have been removed. My reputation as a photographer (such as it is) has been built up over many, many, years and it would be the height of foolishness to lose it overnight by lying that a captive subject was in fact a wild subject …………… as the winner of the Wildlife photographer of the year did a couple of years ago before he was found out and disqualified.

    If I were first and foremost a naturalist, I might take a different view!
    Colin



  6. #16
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    Default Re: Wild or Captive, does it matter?

    Really comprehensive response from Colin in my opinion and I would't disagree with any of it.

    I've been to Gigrin to photograph red kites and to a trout farm near Rutland to photograph ospreys. These birds are obviously wild but are artificially attracted to the locations. I feel the same about feeding stations to attract woodlands birds and even setting up feeders in the garden and putting more attractive perches alongside them to get a natural looking shot. Are these birds genuinely wild or starting to become tame?

    I've always stated if an animal is captive. In some respects I think captive is more of a challenge because you often have to deal with an unnatural background. I have two excellent zoos (even though they don't like to use the word zoo) near me and will spend a long time waiting for an animal to get in front of vegetation to make the shot appear more natural, rather than have a mesh background.

    I think one area where, for me, a shot taken in the wild will always score over a captive one, is shot satisfaction. For example, some years ago I was in Skye and managed a shot, in very poor light, of an otter on some rocks on the shoreline. I've also taken much better otter shots, which can look quite natural, at the British Wildlife Centre. The genuine wild ones gave me much more satisfaction. though 'photographically', nowhere near as good.

    John

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Wild or Captive, does it matter?

    Quite agree with both Colin and John's comments.

    Go to Skye often and whilst I've seen otters many times they have always to distant for photography. Really enjoyed taking images of them at BWC but would still like to photograph them in their natural environment.
    Canon 5D3, 7D2, 60D, Canon 70-200L f2.8 IS II, Canon 300 f4L IS, Canon 16-35 f4 L, Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Canon 1.4 MkIII extender, Sigma AF 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM, Sigma 150-600 Contemporary, Tamron SP AF 70-300 F/4-5.6 Di VC USD, Canon EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS
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  8. #18
    Member* pelliott1954's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wild or Captive, does it matter?

    Thanks for all the replies Guys, much appreciated. I can see a lot of thought had gone into many of the replies with some thought provoking content too.

    For me I don't think there is a right or wrong, first of all not everyone has the same opportunities to catch certain animals or birds in the wild, a good example for that would be the Brown Hares I see and photograph a lot of, firstly I think they are a wonderful animal and I just love to sit and watch their antics, trying to learn their ways, but I happen to live where there are many of them, I have seen many comments on here and other sites from people who literally haven't seen one for years.

    Another favourite for me is Owls and again am lucky to live near where some live and hunt, I don't blame anyone for going to a Wildlife Park or similar if it gives them an opportunity to photograph these beautiful creatures.

    Mastering the art of the photographic technique is a part of the enjoyment and satisfaction of 'nailing' the shot, and that surely can be gained and improved upon from either captive or wild animals.

    Another aspect is surely time available with the camera, I am lucky enough to be retired so have lots of time available, (when SWMBO allows it anyway) had I still been working with much less time, I am sure I would be frequenting wildlife Parks in an attempt to increase my chances of actually getting something in the viewfinder.

    So I suppose after all my blather I really mean, each to their own and I for one would never criticise a shot for being taken of something captive

    Thanks again to everyone who contributed

    Paul

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